What We Do

The Institute for Food, Nutrition and Health (IFNH) brings together the University of Reading’s world-leading expertise in food, nutrition, agriculture, health and the environment to understand how improvements in food production, processing and nutrition can help deliver better diets and health.

The IFNH supports and drives the University’s engagement in a number of key programmes and initiatives aligned to key strategic objectives and maximises the outputs achieved by these to ensure beneficial outcomes for the University. These benefits include research innovation, excellent teaching and learning, revenue generation, capacity building and raised University profile. Working with a growing range of industry, research and academic partners to address key challenges in the broad food system, the IFNH is keen to maximise potential for further collaboration and partnership opportunities.

IFNH Mission

Our focus is to support the development and delivery of effective multi-disciplinary collaborations, both among researchers and academics across the full breadth of the University, as well as with external organisations who share our strategic ambitions to explore, innovate and educate in the overlapping areas of food, nutrition and health.

Critically the Institute’s role is to generate significant added value by supporting and facilitating opportunities for the identification, development and exploitation of multi-disciplinary opportunities, maximising and synergising the strengths that exist in different areas of the University.

Expertise at the University of Reading

The multi-disciplinary expertise at the University of Reading encompasses the whole food value chain – from crop and animal research, the environment and food systems, the manufacture of functional ingredients, to addressing the societal challenges of biodiversity, climate change, ageing, obesity and cardiometabolic diseases.

Our world class research and expertise in resilience and sustainable and healthy food chains enables us to work with our collaborators to address challenges of business innovation and operational delivery – integrated with our impressive state-of-the-art facilities and technical services.

The Institute’s new brochure: Institute for Food, Nutrition and Health – Delivering Better Health Through Integrated Research illustrates the range of research themes and state-of-the-art facilities at the University to showcase our whole food system expertise and approach to global food, nutrition and health challenges.

Click here to see the brochure.


EIT Food is a Knowledge and Innovation Community (KIC) supported by the European Institute for Innovation and Technology (EIT). EIT Food seeks to transform the way in which we produce, distribute and consume food throughout Europe to improve consumer confidence and health. It is a unique partnership of over 50 leading companies, universities, and scientific partners covering the entire food value chain.

The IFNH role is to generate significant added value by supporting and facilitating opportunities for the identification, development and exploitation of multi-disciplinary opportunities, maximising and synergising the strengths that exist in different areas of the University.

The Ceres Agri-Tech Knowledge Exchange Partnership is funded by a Research England Connecting Capability Fund award. The initiative links the universities of Cambridge, East Anglia, Hertfordshire, Lincoln and Reading, along with the John Innes Centre, NIAB and Rothamsted Research, and it aims to drive the growth and productivity of the agri-tech sector in England.

Ceres works with university researchers and business partners to identify, partner, build, invest in and run the most commercially viable development projects focused on the innovation needs of the agri-tech sector so that technologies that can be exploited through licences, start-up companies and partnerships with SMEs and larger agri-tech corporations.

The IFNH role is to maximise the University of Reading’s engagement in Ceres and support and facilitate opportunities for the identification, development and exploitation of high quality projects, building on and synergising the strengths that exist in different areas of the University.

The development of novel plastic film cladding materials for poly-tunnels

This Ceres project is creating better poly tunnels by spectrally modifying greenhouse films to improve crop growth. Poly tunnels, growing areas enclosed by plastic film cladding, have transformed the production of many crops in the UK and around the world, by reducing losses from poor weather, pests, and diseases.

Read more

The International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) is an international non-profit, non-political organisation which was founded in 1972. ICRISAT’s mission is ‘to reduce poverty, hunger, malnutrition and environmental degradation in the dryland tropics’. Its approach is to drive change through partnerships, enabling ICRISAT to help communities develop their own solutions. It is a CGIAR (formerly the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research) research centre and it leads on the CGIAR research programme on Grain Legumes and Dryland Cereals.

ICRISAT and Smart Food

Smart Food is a major initiative by ICRISAT, which contributes to addressing some of the largest global issues in unison: poor diets (malnutrition to obesity), environmental issues (climate change, water scarcity and environmental degradation), and rural poverty. It was selected in the top 10 Food Innovations in 2017 by LAUNCH Food (founded in 2009 by NASA, the U.S. Agency for International Development, the U.S. Department of State and NIKE, Inc.). The key objective of the Smart Food initiative is to diversify staple foods across Africa and Asia. The Smart Food family encompasses sorghum and millets but also some legumes including chickpea, pigeon pea, groundnut and green gram. By focusing on staples, often 70% of the diet and eaten three times a day, the Smart Food Initiative plans to have the biggest impact. To achieve this, the initiative focuses on a number of Smart Foods to not just popularise them but also to bring them into mainstream consumption

We are working with ICRISAT and the Smart Food initiative to help combat hunger and malnutrition through a diverse range of funding opportunities drawing on a wealth of diverse expertise across the university.

The Plant-Based Food Ecosystem

The Plant-Based Foods EcoSystem is a platform for food manufacturers, food ingredient suppliers, process technology companies, universities, associations, research organisations, breeders, and other agri-food value chain players active in plant-based food ingredients, raw materials, and processing. The Global Plant-Based Foods Ecosystem aims to accelerate the transition towards a more plant-based diet, with better foods produced sustainably, and increase food security with an abundant supply of proteins for food, feed and pet food markets. An important aim of the EcoSystem is to initiate a global budget for public-private partnerships of €1 Billion by 2025.

Plant-based foods require sustainable and nutritionally-sound ingredients, meal components and meal solutions which enable citizens to shift and stick to a plant-based diet, i.e.a diet based on products from plants, excluding animal-based products like meat, fish, dairy, eggs, and insects and including algae/ fungi/microorganisms-based products.

The University is a member of this global network and colleagues at the University have the opportunity to work with 100+ global EcoSystem members on key priority areas in product quality, nutritional value, product conformity, Life-Cycle Analysis, valorisation of waste stream and value chain connectivity.